Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has signed a new $86.1 billion two-year budget after using his line-item veto power to remove 44 provisions passed by the General Assembly.
DeWine’s office released a statement saying the budget passed by the Republican-dominated General Assembly supports the Republican governor’s priorities.
“I am proud to sign this budget, and while it makes historic investments in Ohioans across their lives, I believe we are doing more to support and encourage Ohio’s children to lead happy, healthy, and productive lives than ever before,” DeWine said.
“Whether it is helping them get the healthiest start in life by providing top-notch health care for moms; to expanding access to quality early childhood education; to ensuring their teachers have the resources and skills needed to teach students how to read in the way their brains learn to read; to providing prevention and early intervention tools for those struggling with mental and behavioral health issues; to expanding access and opportunity for all types of training, certifications, and degrees after high school graduation, and continued career development; through ensuring Ohioans have a high quality of life and the highest quality of care as they age, this budget helps make Ohio the heart of opportunity for everyone.”
Items struck from the budget by veto include:
- A provision allowing a student to decline vaccines that are required for enrollment or residence in university dorms at a private college or state college or university. In his veto message, DeWine wrote that “university and college dormitories and student housing are congregate settings where such policy may be of great importance to ensure resident safety. This item is overly broad and may compromise the overall health and safety of students, residents, staff, and faculty at the institution.”
- A measure that would have prohibited local governments from passing ordinances regulating tobacco and alternative nicotine products. This is the second time DeWine has vetoed such a measure. He did so in January when lawmakers passed a bill in response to Columbus banning the sale of flavored tobacco products. Lawmakers then put it into the budget, when DeWine again vetoed, saying: “The removal of local regulation would encourage youth nicotine addiction and immediately undo years of progress to improve public health, which is why a similar provision was previously vetoed.”
- A two-week sales tax holiday in 2024. DeWine wrote that he supports an expanded sales tax holiday, but instead of requiring it be two weeks long he wants the Tax Commissioner, state budget director and County Commissioners Association to study the potential impact on revenues before determining how long it should be.
- An effort to increase the number of child care programs exempt from Step Up to Quality ratings. “Ohio must ensure that children have quality supports and services to help them thrive early so they can succeed later in life,” DeWine wrote.
- A prohibition on “foreign adversaries” owning agricultural land in Ohio. DeWine wrote that “including other non-agricultural real properly in this provision could have unintended economic development consequences.”
- An item requiring the interest earned from the state’s rainy day fund to go into the general fund. DeWine wrote that rainy day fund interest should stay in the rainy day fund.
- A reduction in reinstatement fees to a flat $40 for individuals whose licenses were suspended for driving without insurance. DeWine wrote that this would undermine incentives for obtaining insurance. His veto reduces reinstatement to $40 for the first offense, but increases it for subsequent offenses.
The new budget includes almost $3 billion in income tax cuts, funding for universal school vouchers and hundreds of other measures.
Despite a Republican supermajority in both chambers, the House and Senate versions had nearly 900 differences between them, including measures on how to fund education, public assistance programs and tax cuts as well as far-reaching policy issues overhauling how both K-12 education and public colleges and universities operate in the state.
Republican Sen. Matt Dolan, co-chair of the budget’s conference committee, said the budget meets Ohioans’ needs and makes sure the state is a great place to start a business, educate kids and raise families.
And while Democrats said they got some wins, overall, the budget still doesn’t do enough to protect vulnerable populations while providing more benefits for the wealthy.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.